A Cardboard Castle? An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 55: Czechoslovak and East German
Views on the Warsaw Pact, July 1968

The two documents reproduced here show the different perspectives held by the Czechoslovak reformers and the conservative East Germans. Both records are from July 1968, when the Czechoslovak crisis had already escalated. The first document pre- cedes the crucial July 14–15 Warsaw meeting of Warsaw Pact members—minus Czecho- slovakia and Romania—at which the remaining five countries' leaders reached a con- sensus on the probable need for military intervention in Czechoslovakia (see Document No. 54). The memorandum is intended to preempt the spreading criticism of Czecho- slovakia as being disloyal to the alliance. It apparently resulted from a conference of representatives of reformist and conservative groups within the armed forces held in Bratislava. It summarizes the position which the reformist group thought Czecho- slovakia should take in the Warsaw Pact—acting as not only a disciplined and respon- sible, but also a creative and active, member of the alliance.

The second item below, an East German document, was prepared on July 29, after the so-called Prchlík affair (see footnote 22 for Document No. 52) and the summit of five Warsaw Pact member-states in the Polish capital (Document No. 54). That meet- ing resulted in the transmittal of the so-called "Warsaw Letter" warning the Czecho- slovak leadership of possible military action if the reform movement were not termi- nated swiftly. The document below is an analysis and interpretation of the Warsaw Treaty, and is obviously intended to justify the forthcoming intervention. It says specifically that by not taking part in the Warsaw meeting, Czechoslovakia has violat- ed provisions of the alliance requiring consultation in the event other signatories per- ceive a danger to their security. At best, this view could be said to represent a loose construction of the alliance treaty, if not an outright distortion.

a) Czechoslovak Reformist Memorandum on the Warsaw Treaty and Czechoslovakia, July 1968

The government of the ČSSR has been deeply convinced of the historic importance of the founding and existence of the Warsaw Treaty on friendship, co-operation and mutual assistance among our countries, as well as of the establishment of the Unified Armed Forces of the countries participating in the Pact. The Pact is our common response to the activities of the aggressive imperialist forces, the NATO military grouping in particular.

"…"

Currently, we are once again seeking to increase our active share in the joint defense of the Warsaw Treaty states, as we do not want to be a mere passive member.

-302-

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